http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgCherokee Nation Administration Liaison Pat Gwin uses a Global Positioning System device to map river cane near Greasy, Okla., in southern Adair County. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation Administration Liaison Pat Gwin uses a Global Positioning System device to map river cane near Greasy, Okla., in southern Adair County. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

River cane in CN being mapped, studied

University of Arkansas graduate student and Cherokee Nation citizen Roger Cain studies a dead stalk of river cane that likely died during a time of sub-freezing weather or a drought the area recently experienced. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Healthy stalks of river cane stand near Sallisaw Creek in southern Adair County. A project to map and study river cane in the Cherokee Nation is under way. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX Research shows that Cherokee people living in the southeast frequently used river cane for items such as sleeping mats, food, flutes, blowguns, baskets and cover for homes. The basket on the left, made by Cherokee artist Shawna Cain, is made from river cane. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
University of Arkansas graduate student and Cherokee Nation citizen Roger Cain studies a dead stalk of river cane that likely died during a time of sub-freezing weather or a drought the area recently experienced. WILL CHAVEZ/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/24/2013 08:31 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
GREASY, Okla. – A project to map and study river cane in the Cherokee Nation is under way as two researchers complete work in Adair County.

In this southern Adair County community, near the Sallisaw Creek, University of Arkansas graduate student and CN citizen Roger Cain, as well as CN Administration Liaison Pat Gwin, have been mapping river cane in a densely wooded area.

“It’s a project we started this past year to start identifying and mapping river cane,” Cain, who is finishing a master’s degree in ethno-botany with an emphasis on river cane, said.

He said after the river cane fields are identified and mapped, a usage policy would be developed to preserve the plant and its ecosystems for future generations.

Research has found river cane riparian zones significantly reduce nutrient loads into area streams, creeks and rivers, Cain said. This research has implications for the controversial issue of local poultry farmers allegedly polluting the Illinois River with runoff containing poultry waste.

Gwin said once the river cane data is compiled, the CN would likely have the largest database in Oklahoma and possibly the entire United States.

“It’s a very important plant. I think it has a lot to offer for both the cultural preservation of the Cherokee, and I think it also has a lot to offer scientifically in the future. This is groundbreaking research,” Gwin said. “A misconception with cane is its name. It’s called river cane. I don’t think that’s a very good name. I think it would be far better referred to as flood plain cane or bamboo.”

He said Cain’s research includes gathering soil profiles to show where cane is growing and where the CN may be able to artificially introduce and successfully grow it. Gwin said 99 percent of the canebrakes the two men are finding are not flourishing due to past land management practices and other reasons.

“Estimates are, by specialists in the field of ethno-botany and ethno-biology, is that 2 percent of the population of river cane is left in the whole country,” Cain said.

That 98 percent decline has occurred since Europeans made contact with Native people in North America about 500 years ago, he said. Large areas of canebrakes were once abundant along river bottoms in the southeastern United States. Canebrakes are now considered critically endangered ecosystems because of agriculture, grazing, fire suppression and urbanization.

Gwin said canebrakes would likely lesson the affects of flooding in low-lying areas if they still existed next to streams and rivers in urban areas.

Research shows that Cherokee people living in the southeast frequently used river cane for sleeping mats, food, flutes, blowguns, baskets and cover for homes.

“It was our plastic. When archeologists go into prehistoric sites, be it Cherokee or any Southeastern woodland (tribe), the plants they find more predominately than anything else is river cane and hickory,” Cain said.

Severe winter weather and drought conditions from recent years have decimated area cane fields. Dead stalks littered the cane fields visited by Cain and Gwin as they mapped the fields near Sallisaw Creek.

After those major kills of the plant, Cain said he became concerned there was not much cane left and what was left needed protection, so he successfully lobbied the CN Environmental Protection Commission to place the plant on the tribe’s Culturally Protected Species List.

Cain said he and Gwin have covered 13,000 acres so far and have found only 50 total acres of cane growing on CN land in Adair County.

Gwin uses a Global Positioning System device and Geographic Information Systems to map the canebrakes. So far, only tribal lands in Adair County have been mapped for river cane, but Gwin said research and mapping would done on tribal lands in other counties soon.

“It’s been very educational for me. I’ve learned more about cane in the last couple of months than I have in my entire life,” Gwin said. “The goal is we will survey every inch of tribal trust property and determine the presence of cane and the cane brakes. For the most part we have found it in smaller brakes.”

He added that the stalks studied so far range from 2 feet tall to 20 feet tall located in small canebrakes.

“We certainly don’t have the very large breaks that most people think of when they look at the large flood plains of the Baron Fork (Creek) and the Illinois River. We don’t have any like that that we’ve seen yet,” Gwin said.

will-chavez@cherokee.org


918-207-3961

About the Author
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M.

He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life.
He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association.

Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will lives in Tahlequah, Okla., but calls Marble City, Okla., his hometown. He is Cherokee and San Felipe Pueblo and grew up learning the Cherokee language, traditions and culture from his Cherokee mother and family. He also appreciates his father’s Pueblo culture and when possible attends annual traditional dances held on the San Felipe Reservation near Albuquerque, N.M. He enjoys studying and writing about Cherokee history and culture and writing stories about Cherokee veterans. For Will, the most enjoyable part of writing for the Cherokee Phoenix is having the opportunity to meet Cherokee people from all walks of life. He earned a mass communications degree in 1993 from Northeastern State University with minors in marketing and psychology. He is a member of the Native American Journalists Association. Will has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 20 years. He has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a reporter and a photographer for the Cherokee Phoenix for more than 18 years. He was named interim executive editor on Dec. 8, 2015, by the Cherokee Phoenix Editorial Board.

Culture

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/27/2017 08:15 AM
ROCK FENCE, Okla. – Leading a school bus of Greasy School fifth and sixth graders in his pickup truck, Cherokee Nation ethno botanist Roger Cain stops near a bridge overlooking Little Lee Creek, east of the Adair County school. After the children and teachers unload, he leads them to a nearby river canebrake where he shows them how cane grows, discusses how Cherokee people used it for tools and weapons and to hide in when they were attacked by enemy tribes. For the past few years, Cain has researched and catalogued river cane fields in the tribe’s jurisdiction for the Cherokee River Cane Initiative. The initiative encourages people to understand better and preserve dwindling river cane fields in the jurisdiction. Since January, Cain has visited fifth and sixth graders at Greasy School to teach them about river cane and how Cherokee people used it. The students have had opportunities to shoot blowguns made from river cane and learn how to throw river cane spears using an atlatl, which gives the spear more force. “We’re finally finishing up the school year by coming out to a canebrake and seeing what a canebrake looks like and how it impacts the environment,” Cain said. “We’ve been talking about river cane and how it’s used for baskets, for blowguns, atlatls as well how it’s good for the environment...for water quality. Cain also told students how he uses Google Maps to map and catalog river canebrakes in the CN. Next fall he said he plans to show the students how he creates his maps. Teaching Greasy students about river cane and how it affects their environment is needed, he said, because 99 percent of river cane found in Adair County is located near the school. “What we figured (through the initiative) is we need to start addressing this with the local school systems and working at keeping them (canebrakes) clean and teaching how important the ecosystems are. Hopefully we’ll expand the coverage area for future use and future Cherokees,” he said. “I’m hoping to continue it and expand it into other schools next year.” During the April 13 field trip, Cain also showed students other plants and their importance to Cherokee people such as the bloodroot plant, which is used for medicine as well as dye to color woven baskets including baskets made from river cane. Greasy student Sadie Ritter said she’s learned a lot about river cane including how it grows, where to find it and how it can be made into various things. “I learned about (river cane) rhizomes and how to find it on Google Maps. It’s really cool to learn about it,” she said. Sixth grade teacher Marilyn Bynum said she believes her students learned a lot about their environment from Cain and the role it played for Cherokee people. “The children have had the opportunity to use the blow darts and throw the atlatl and experience hands on some tools their ancestors had used for many years, and it really brought it to life. It was like living history,” she said. “Today, we have talked about the natural resource (of river cane) and how it protects the banks of the river. We’re at Little Lee Creek in Adair County, and Roger has shown us how the river cane helps maintain the soil along the banks.” For more information, visit the Cherokee River Cane Initiative page on Facebook.
BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
04/18/2017 08:15 AM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Sac and Fox artist Tony Tiger took home the grand prize award for his work “Metamorphosis” at the Cherokee Heritage Center’s 46th annual Trail of Tears Art Show. Winning artists for the show were announced April 7 during an opening-night celebration for the show, which can be viewed through May 6. The TOTAS is the longest-running Native American art show in Oklahoma and features a variety of authentic art. Featured artwork is available to purchase throughout the show’s duration. CHC Interim Director Tonia Hogner Weavel said the show is open to any federally recognized tribal citizen. Artists competed for more than $14,000 in prize money in seven categories: paintings, graphics, sculpture, pottery, basketry, miniatures and jewelry. “The art is the most prestigious in the country, and it is for sale to the public. The art show gives people the opportunity to see some of the most contemporary artists that are being featured nationally. So, we are pleased and happy to host this show,” she said. Tiger said he has been participating in the art show for about 10 years, and this is the first time he’s won the grand prize. “I was very surprised,” Tiger, who is also Seminole and Creek, said. “Artists have to have opportunities to exhibit their art, to sell their art, and this (TOTAS) is a wonderful way to do that.” Cherokee Nation citizen Renee Hoover entered her contemporary double-wall baskets using round reed material in the show and won a first place award for her “My Mother’s Basket.” “The Trail of Tears Art Show is really a special show. It recognizes the wonderful traditions of Native people and the artistry that we have. I especially like participating in it because of the quality of the art is outstanding. It’s very competitive, and I always come in worried ‘will I be good enough, will I be juried in?’ So, there’s a lot of anxiety,” she said. “It’s wonderful to also appreciate the artwork that’s here and the way we as Native people use our art to continue to allow our traditions and culture to thrive.” For a complete list of awardees, visit www.Anadisgoi.com. <strong>2017 TOTAS Winners & Awards</strong> Painting: Roy Boney Jr., Cherokee Nation, “She Led Her By the Hand ” Sculpture: Troy Jackson, Cherokee Nation, “Exodus, The Assembling of Displacement” Basketry: Renee Hoover, Cherokee Nation, “My Mother’s Basket” Pottery: Chase Earles, Caddo Nation, “Caddo Story of the Flood: Respect Land and Animals” Jewelry: Toneh Chuleewah, Cherokee Nation, “Copper Style Bracelet” Graphics: Brenda Bradford, Cherokee Nation, “Light Through Fire” Miniature: Merlin Littlethunder, Cheyenne Nation, “Chiefs Meeting on Water Rights” Emerging Artists: Kellie Vann, Cherokee Nation, “Bath Time for Super Heroes” Bill Rabbit Legacy Award: Karin Walkingstick, Cherokee Nation, “Tsi-s-du” Betty Garner Elder Award: Paul Hacker, Choctaw Nation, “The Chief”
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/11/2017 12:45 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. – Learn the history of the Cherokee National Female Seminary during a lunchtime discussion on April 21 at the John Ross Museum. Retired educator and local historian Beth Herrington will lead the one-hour discussion beginning at noon. Construction began on the Cherokee National Female Seminary in 1847 under the direction of Principal Chief John Ross. It opened in 1851 as one of the earliest schools of higher learning established for women west of the Mississippi. The building was later destroyed by fire on Easter Sunday in 1887. Rebuilt 130 years ago, the building represents the oldest structure on what would come to be known as Northeastern State University. The event is open to the public and free to attend. Guests are encouraged to bring a brown bag lunch. The museum will also offer free admission throughout the day. The museum highlights the life of John Ross and houses exhibits and interactive displays on the Trail of Tears, Civil War, Cherokee Golden Age and the Cherokee Nation’s passion for education. The museum is housed in an old, rural school building known as School No. 51 and sits at the foot of Ross Cemetery, where John Ross and other notable CN citizens are buried. The museum is located at 22366 S. 530 Road.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
04/11/2017 08:15 AM
PRYOR, Okla. – Five years after her father Bill’s death, Cherokee Nation citizen Traci Rabbit is continuing her family’s artistic legacy with her ability to create and reproduce art for the studio they operated together – Rabbit Studios. “(I’m) so just very blessed that I’m able to support quite a few people in my family…carrying on my dad’s legacy. Doing the only thing I knew to do,” Traci said. Traci said her father was “progressive” when he started reproducing art to sell as a means of income to support a family. She said artists are realizing the value of reproductions and how to make a living as an artist. For the Cherokee Phoenix’s second quarter giveaway, she donated an 18-inch-by-24-inch giclee (reproduction) on canvas of her “Gifts of Life” painting. “I chose ‘Gifts of Life,’ which depicts a Native American woman with four hummingbirds representing the four directions, the four seasons, different stages of life. When people look at my work, I may try to convey one message but they see another. With spring coming, I thought that would be a good piece and people might like it,” Traci said. “The color palette that I used was to depict spring and the renewal of life and starting over. So that was what I was thinking when I painted that piece.” Most of her art depicts Native American women. She said she is inspired by the women in her family. “I would say that the reason that I do (paint Native American women) is from an early age my parents always empowered us kids. My mother is a very strong woman. The people in my family and the people that I was around and raised by, they were all very strong women. So, I guess growing up around that I admired their strength and their determination and their ability to rise above bad circumstances,” Traci said. At Rabbit Studios, all work and reproductions are done in-house on items such as art tiles, clipboards, mouse pads, cell phone covers, coffee mugs, coasters, scarves and handbags. Traci said her schedule throughout the year is “crazy.” From August to March, she travels to one or two art shows a month in and out of state, including wholesale shows. From March to July, she creates new art and decides what will come next in her product line to get ready for the next season’s schedule. Not only does she have to think creatively for her art, but she also get into a business mindset to determine what products she wants to sell. “Not only do I create the art, but being able to do the business side of it is, I think, so important for artists today. They should know both sides. That way they’re not fumbling through, not understanding. At least have an understanding of…that other side if you’re going to do it for a living because it is very important,” Traci said. Her art and merchandise can be found at billandtracirabbit.com. For more information, email <a href="mailto: orders@billandtracirabbit.com">orders@billandtracirabbit.com</a> or visit Rabbit Studios at 231 S. Taylor. On July 1, the Cherokee Phoenix will draw a winner for Rabbit’s “Gifts of Life.” For every $10 donated to the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veterans Fund or spent on Cherokee Phoenix goods one entry will be entered into the drawing.
BY LINDSEY BARK
Staff Writer
04/10/2017 08:00 AM
SNAKE CREEK, Okla. – From the dirt to the plate, spring is when many Cherokees are in the woods and hollows gathering a delicacy known as wild onions. For the Standingwater family, it’s a long-standing tradition passed generation to generation. Cherokee Nation citizen Stephanie Standingwater-Cutrer said she’s gathered onions for more than 30 years and remembers going with her grandmother. “I remember going with my grandma when I was old enough to walk. (I would) follow her. I didn’t know what she was doing. I just pretty much played in the dirt. She was always picking something. I would see her gathering everything up and take them and clean them,” Standingwater-Cutrer said. “I don’t remember actually being taught, I just was around it.” CN citizen Willa Standingwater said she remembers what her dad told her about Cherokee people. “Dad used to say that Indians lived off the land during spring and summer. Like in the woods, they’d go get onions and all these different kind of plants that you can eat. During the winter they’d eat off the animals.” Standingwater-Cutrer said she “picked up” on how her grandmother identified onions, looking for the “brightest green” stalks and ensuring they were “big enough” to be ripe. She said there is a right time to pick the onions. If they are too small, they taste sweet. If they are too big then they are “about to go to seed” and turn tough because of seeds growing in the bulbs. “I just know from the middle of March to the end of March they are pretty good to eat. Like this year they came out early,” Standingwater-Cutrer said. She said when it’s the right time to gather, onions can “smell up the house,” leaving an odor on clothing. Standingwater-Cutrer said she learned techniques from her grandmother and father for unearthing onions. She uses shovels, screwdrivers, sticks or her hands. Standingwater said she uses a butter knife and is teaching her children the same technique. When it comes to cleaning onions, Standingwater-Cutrer said she takes them to a nearby creek and runs them through the water. Then she peels back the first layer on the onion bulb and pinches the end to remove the roots. After learning where onions are located, how to identify them and using different unearthing techniques, Standingwater-Cutrer said she’s able to pass on the tradition to her son, whom she has taken on wild onion excursions since he was a baby. “Later on they’ll realize how important it is,” she said. As for cooking onions, Standingwater said she learned from her mother. After onions are cleaned, she prepares a frying pan with about two tablespoons of grease and chops the onions into 1-inch pieces. She then places three to four handfuls of chopped onions into the pan and lets them fry until the stalks turns dark green. After darkening, Standingwater adds salt and about a quarter cup of water and cooks the onions until the water evaporates. The last ingredient is whisked eggs. She cooks until the eggs are done. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. Standingwater-Cutrer and Standingwater said they enjoy getting out to their wild onion locations annually to gather as much as they can before the season ends. “They only come in season. You can’t get them anywhere (else), and there’s a lot of work that goes into it, too. A lot of the older people can’t really get out in the woods anymore and get down on the ground and get them like they used. A lot of them depend on us to get them some onions,” Standingwater-Cutrer said.
BY STAFF REPORTS
04/06/2017 04:00 PM
INDIANAPOLIS – One of downtown Indianapolis’ top artistic and cultural celebrations returns June 24-25, for its 25th anniversary: the Eiteljorg Museum Indian Market and Festival. Visitors can meet Native American artists from more than 60 tribes and purchase their handmade art, including jewelry, pottery, beadwork, cultural items, basketry, paintings, sculpture and weavings. The weekend also will feature performances from renowned Native American musicians Arvel Bird and Tony Duncan, as well as family-friendly cultural demonstrations of Native art, cooking and storytelling. The Indian Market and Festival will take place on the Eiteljorg Museum grounds from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time) on both days, with artists’ booths located outside and inside the museum. A special feature this year will be a museum gallery exhibit celebrating 25 years of collecting Native American art during previous Eiteljorg Indian Markets. “As the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival developed over the past 25 years, many Native American artists from all over the U.S. and Canada have traveled to Indianapolis to show their art and cultivate new collectors here in the Midwest – friends who return to Indian Market each year to see their favorite artists’ latest works,” said Eiteljorg President and CEO John Vanausdall. “This silver anniversary of Indian Market and Festival is especially meaningful, as longtime collectors and a second generation of visitors converge on the Eiteljorg Museum to experience Native American art and culture and share in this important community event.” After a modest start in 1993, the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival has grown into one of the top Native American art markets in the nation, and thousands of people attend the event held on the weekend after Father’s Day each year. Artists are chosen through a juried selection, and for artists to be eligible to participate, all entries must be handmade within the past two years by the artist entering the piece. Entries must be available for purchase during Indian Market and Festival and not include any part of a species of a protected animal. To ensure authenticity of artwork, all artists must provide documentation confirming they are members of a state-recognized tribe or citizens of a federally recognized tribe under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. Judges who review the artwork will present awards to artists in multiple divisions, including a youth division. New to the Indian Market and Festival this year is veteran storyteller Ramona Moore Big Eagle (Tuscarora/Cherokee). As the oral historian and legend-keeper of the Tuscarora Nation of North Carolina, she is an educator and motivational. Returning storyteller Teresa Webb (Anishinaabe) also will talk about her culture, accompanied by flute, rattle and drum. For the performance schedule, visit <a href="http://www.eiteljorg.org" target="_blank">eiteljorg.org</a>. Admission to the Indian Market and Festival, which also gets visitors into the museum, is $13 for adults and $11 for seniors. Youth 17 and under are free. Eiteljorg members enjoy free admission. Discount tickets can be ordered in advance by calling 317-636-9378. Parking for a fee is available in the White River State Park garage. To enjoy early shopping before the crowds arrive, enthusiasts of Native American art can attend the Indian Market and Festival Preview Party on June 23. For party details and admission prices, see <a href="http://www.eiteljorg.org" target="_blank">eiteljorg.org</a>.